[This is the MILLERWRITES contribution to the 2012 Blogging A to Z April Challenge Here is my INTRODUCTION to this particular series, and an opportunity for you to influence which alphabetically aligned weird words I will comment on this month. THANK YOU for stopping by!]
Is JUBILEE such a strange word? We might use it here once in a while to describe a great celebration. Perhaps the wedding of a famous couple, or a national athletic victory or inauguration, but even there the word seems old fashioned and too out of date.
In the Old Testament book of Leviticus, the word JUBILEE is given and used by God to describe a very specific, semi-centennial event called The Year of JUBILEE.
As one part of God's many directives to His people Israel, He mandated that every 50 years, the Year of JUBILEE would be entered into with a great blast of trumpets, and the year would be enjoyed by all, as many proscribed actions were taken:
First, the land was all to lie fallow. Only those crops which grew spontaneously, without any sowing or cultivating, were to be eaten. When asked, God reassured the people that He would make sure the previous year had enough abundance to carry them through the entire JUBILEE year! Essentially, He promised an automatic, regularly scheduled, miracle crop. (By the way, this guarantee was made every 6th year, because every 7th year the land was to be 'rested' in Israel)
Second, all land sold outside the family of its original owner was to be deeded back to the selling family at no cost, during the year of JUBILEE! This meant that the price someone would pay for a field, or for a house in an unwalled town (which was considered as open country) was determined by the number of years before the next Y of J, because it was actually more of a rental agreement, or as a purchase of just so many years worth of crops.
Third, any person who had indentured himself as a 'slave' as a way of paying a debt, would be freed when that special year came around. I imagine that few debts were paid this way in the few years before the Y of J; who would accept such a deal just then?
Finally, all debts were considered paid in full during the Year of Jubilee!
Here is a list of the social benefits that God probably had in mind when He instituted this whole, previously unheard of, system. (And this from that mean and bloodthirsty God we are supposed to know in the Old Testament!?)
From the Biblegateway.com
The advantages of this institution were manifold. "1. It would prevent the accumulation of land on the part of a few to the detriment of the community at large. 2. It would render it impossible for any one to be born to absolute poverty, since every one had his hereditary land. 3. It would preclude those inequalities which are produced by extremes of riches and poverty, and which make one man domineer over another. 4. It would utterly do away with slavery. 5. It would afford a fresh opportunity to those who were reduced by adverse circumstances to begin again their career of industry in the patrimony which they had temporarily forfeited. 6. It would periodically rectify the disorders which crept into the state in the course of time, preclude the division of the people into nobles and plebeians, and preserve the theocracy inviolate."